Three strikes and you’re out: A look at the proposed changes to the legal aid system

Reducing access to criminal legal aid could give criminals grounds for appeal.

“€35,000 in legal aid but no compensation for Corcoran family” the Independent proclaimed in the aftermath of the Tipperary raid case last October.

The case involved seven Dublin men driving to Tipperary, breaking into the Corcoran family home, and brutally beating father Mark Corcoran in front of his children. The ring leader, Dean Byrne, had 120 previous convictions.

The case came to be the symbol of a new type of crime; gangs using motorways to rob country homes and farms. Many were also shocked by the cruelty of the robbers in this case. The fact that the men were out of prison to begin with, having over 315 previous convictions between them, only added to the outrage.

The Corcoran family lost everything. Under the weight of medical expenses and post-traumatic stress disorder, the family were forced to close their once successful business.

Meanwhile, the criminals responsible were afforded free legal aid, including two barristers and a solicitor.

Victim’s rights NGO ‘Support After Crime’ criticised this award of legal aid and called on the Government to put a cap on the amount of legal aid that can be given.

More recently, TDs expressed outrage that their colleague Paul Murphy was able to qualify for free legal aid on a €87,000 a year salary. Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell described it as a “crime against the taxpayer”.

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